Cool find..... I think around 1915

JFletcher

Senior Member
Very cool. I am guessing that was not even made on an assembly line; the busbars do not intersect at perfect right angles.

The little rubber disconnect are in remarkable shape for being a hundred plus years old.

Only 30 amps? Looks like it could handle more than that.
I'm sure the bus bars can, though the way they are connected to each other, and the feeder connections, 30 amps is probably it. With better connections or a one-piece buss it could probably handle a hundred amps.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Only 30 amps? Looks like it could handle more than that.
It does, but the rating probably stemmed from that being a standard residential service size, either one or two 30a circuits, especially back when homes weren't wired at all when they were built. I've worked in many homes like this in Church Hill in Richmond. Adding knob-and-tube wiring an existing house became an art back then.

The usual method to wire the first floor was, along the central wall in the upstairs hallway, to pry up two floorboards from the front of the house to the back, and brace-and-bit drill through every joist. That gave access to the downstairs ceiling lighting, the central wall both up and down for switches and receptacles, and 3-way switching in the hall.

The rest of the house was wired from the attic or the crawlspace. I've even seen houses where gas piping for both lighting and heat was added after the house was built. You can learn a lot about how a house was built by looking at exposed details when it has been gutted.


Added: By the way, that panel is a 120v panel, not 240v; they fused the neutral back then. And, with that many circuits, it likely was in a house that was wired with K&T when it was built.
 
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sameguy

Senior Member
A frat house at Syracuse University (the Singer sewing co. mansion) is running on those last I knew.
 

JFletcher

Senior Member
It does, but the rating probably stemmed from that being a standard residential service size, either one or two 30a circuits, especially back when homes weren't wired at all when they were built. I've worked in many homes like this in Church Hill in Richmond. Adding knob-and-tube wiring an existing house became an art back then.

The usual method to wire the first floor was, along the central wall in the upstairs hallway, to pry up two floorboards from the front of the house to the back, and brace-and-bit drill through every joist. That gave access to the downstairs ceiling lighting, the central wall both up and down for switches and receptacles, and 3-way switching in the hall.

The rest of the house was wired from the attic or the crawlspace. I've even seen houses where gas piping for both lighting and heat was added after the house was built. You can learn a lot about how a house was built by looking at exposed details when it has been gutted.


Added: By the way, that panel is a 120v panel, not 240v; they fused the neutral back then. And, with that many circuits, it likely was in a house that was wired with K&T when it was built.
Also very cool to learn. I have never worked with knob and tube, about the oldest I see is the old armored BX cable, maybe remnants of an old k&t system... Old porcelain insulators in the attic.

The other thing that I noticed about the panel is its utter lack of anything resembling a safety feature, save for the insulated disconnects. Closing the disconnect, or installing with fuse, on a bolted fault with the dead front off and absolutely nothing in the way of you and the ensuing arc...yikes! No PPE, I guess it would have been more prudent than ever to check the circuit integrity before you closed the circuit in the panel.

Could that panel have also been used with a DC circuit? It is not labeled AC or DC, though I presume from the voltage it would have been AC.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
99% sure it was AC.

It's amazing how rare shorts occurred in K&T-wired homes, because the wires are a foot or more apart in most places.

Overloads, yes, especially with the invention of these, as the first wired homes had only pendant lighting in each room:

m-4Eq4VAO8z5rwqDj7BxItQ.jpg s-l1600.jpg
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
99% sure it was AC.

It's amazing how rare shorts occurred in K&T-wired homes, because the wires are a foot or more apart in most places.

Overloads, yes, especially with the invention of these, as the first wired homes had only pendant lighting in each room:

View attachment 21796 View attachment 21797
My last house was built in the late '20's, and that is the only way I had electricity for any purpose other than lighting in the upstairs area.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Also very cool to learn. I have never worked with knob and tube, about the oldest I see is the old armored BX cable, maybe remnants of an old k&t system... Old porcelain insulators in the attic.

The other thing that I noticed about the panel is its utter lack of anything resembling a safety feature, save for the insulated disconnects. Closing the disconnect, or installing with fuse, on a bolted fault with the dead front off and absolutely nothing in the way of you and the ensuing arc...yikes! No PPE, I guess it would have been more prudent than ever to check the circuit integrity before you closed the circuit in the panel.

Could that panel have also been used with a DC circuit? It is not labeled AC or DC, though I presume from the voltage it would have been AC.
But also consider that available fault current levels back then were probably nothing like they may be today. Still some hazard but incident energy level was overall lower than it will often be today.
 

drcampbell

Senior Member
The other thing that strikes me is the large number of circuits and the low current rating. 30 amps, ten circuits?
Then again, I have encountered 16 AWG lighting circuits in buildings of that same era.

... The other thing that I noticed about the panel is its utter lack of anything resembling a safety feature, save for the insulated disconnects. Closing the disconnect, or installing with fuse, on a bolted fault with the dead front off and absolutely nothing in the way of you and the ensuing arc...yikes! No PPE, I guess it would have been more prudent than ever to check the circuit integrity before you closed the circuit in the panel.

Could that panel have also been used with a DC circuit? It is not labeled AC or DC, though I presume from the voltage it would have been AC.
Even a fuse not labeled "current limiting" will provide some current limiting into a bolted fault.
I thought "dead front" referred to design elements that enable you to turn a circuit on & off, change fuses or reset breakers without any risk of touching anything energized?

It doesn't say "AC only", so installing it in a DC system wouldn't have been a listing violation. (if there even were "listing violations" in 1915) I'm not sure when we began to understand that equipment wasn't generally suitable for the same DC and AC voltage.

This device also contributed to a lot of overloads and fires:
edison-base-radiant-heater.jpeg
 
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